Zenith Phase One

Mor­ri­son mad­ness, price now more mod­est

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Comics -

Re­lease Date: 23 Oc­to­ber

112 pages ( hard­back) | £ 20 Writer: Grant Mor­ri­son Artist: Steve Ye­ow­ell Pub­lisher: Re­bel­lion

Zenith has long

been re­garded as one of the jew­els in 2000 AD’s crown. This acid house al­ter­na­tive to Watch­men and The Dark Knight Re­turns proved to be one of the best cape comics of the ’ 80s.

It has, how­ever, had a spotty pub­lish­ing his­tory, with le­gal quib­bles pre­vent­ing it be­ing reprinted un­til last year when Re­bel­lion put out a lav­ish ( and ex­trav­a­gantly priced) col­lected edi­tion. Now here is the first of four af­ford­able hard­backs, which sep­a­rate the story into its con­stituent “phases”.

Robert McDow­ell – aka Zenith – is a pop star with pow­ers. Vain and su­per­fi­cial, he’s more con­cerned with sell­ing records than sav­ing lives. It’s not long, how­ever, be­fore a Nazi su­per­man starts caus­ing havoc and Rob finds him­self team­ing up with a group of washed- up he­roes and an avari­cious Tory MP to fight back.

Zenith may be nearly 30 now, but it still feels fresh. Bright and funny, while shot through with a vein of cyn­i­cism, it reads like an early draft of some of Grant Mor­ri­son’s later, more am­bi­tious work. His reg­u­lar tropes are all present and cor­rect – oc­cultism, ex­tra- di­men­sional be­ings, pop- cul­ture ref­er­ences – but Zenith is fleeter of foot, no doubt partly due to the re­stric­tions of 2000 AD’s episodic for­mat. Steve Ye­ow­ell’s ( mostly black and white) art, mean­while, grounds ex­tra­or­di­nary events in the every­day. Phase One isn’t quite Zenith in its prime, but this is still an es­sen­tial in­tro­duc­tion to the se­ries. Will Sal­mon

Harry Styles can’t do that. We think.

Even the ink is mind- bend­ing.

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